Splitsville: Rattlers and Chiefs Split Double Header To Even Series At Two Games A Piece

by Kevin Kimmes
20140406-194623.jpg

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you do both in the same day. Welcome to the joys of the double header.

After Friday’s game was cancelled due to the never ending icy grip of Mother Nature, the Rattlers announced that the game would be made up on Sunday afternoon as part of pair of 7 inning contests. After the Rattlers evened the series at a game a piece on Saturday, the stage was set for a showdown that was anything but Minor League.

You see, Sundays in Appleton are “Brewer Sundays”, a celebration of the team’s Major League affiliation, and what better way to kick off the first one of the season than with a visit from Hall of Famer, Rollie Fingers. Yes, the man, the myth, the mustache was in the house to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and didn’t disappoint, throwing a strike right across the plate.

The Chiefs, still stinging from Saturday’s loss, wasted no time going after Rattler starter Anthony Banda. After a throwing error by shortstop Angel Ortega allowed Chiefs’ leadoff hitter C.J. McElroy, Jr. to reach base, second baseman Mason Katz crushed a ball over the wall and gave the Chiefs an early 2-0 lead. They would never look back.

Adding an additional run in the 5th, 3 runs would be all it would take to maintain control of Game 1. The Rattlers would not go down without a fight though tallying 2 runs in the 6th as both Ortega and Johnny Davis scored off of a Francisco Castillo single. Your final in Game 1: 3-2 Peoria Chiefs.

After a brief intermission, the Rattlers were ready for Game 2 and this time they would strike first blood. The bottom of the 2nd opened up with Rattlers’ 3rd baseman Taylor Brennan working the count full before unleashing a solo homer that gave Wisconsin an early 1-0 lead.

Peoria would answer back with a solo homer of their own from Katz in the top of the 6th, knotting the score at 1 run a piece. Realizing that time was of the essense, the Rattlers fired back in the bottom half of the inning with both Davis and Chris McFarland crossing the plate to regain the lead for Wisconsin. Rattlers’ reliever Harvey Martin’s spotless 1-2-3 7th would seal the deal in Game 2.

Rattlers win Game 2 3-1.

Today’s outcomes bring the 4 game opening series to an end, resulting in a 2-2 record for both teams. The Rattlers now hit the road for a 6 game road trip beginning with 3 games against the West Michigan Whitecaps and concluding with 3 games against the South Bend Silver Hawks. The Rattlers return home on Monday, April 14th as they kick off a 3 game series against the Lansing Lugnuts.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a former MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Pre-Game Notes 4/6/14

by Kevin Kimmes
20140406-122933.jpg

It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame. Hey Bernie, let’s play two!

Brewer Sunday, double-header, Rollie Fingers…if you’re not on your way to Fox Cities Stadium, WHY NOT? Here’s some quick news and notes leading into today’s contest:

Streak Complete: The Rattlers broke a 7 game losing streak which dated back to the end of the 2013 season yesterday with their 8-4 win over Peoria.

Rattle On: Taylor Brennan found himself on base 4 times yesterday with 2 singles (in the 1st and 3rd) and 2 walks (in the 4th and 7th).

Deja Vu: Speaking of Taylor Brennan; he, along with Michael Ratterree and Clint Coulter each scored runs in back to back innings (the 4th and 5th). That’s 6 runs, 3 players, 2 innings. Impressive!

Saving the Day: Tristan Archer picked up the 1st Rattler save of the season completing 4 innings of work on Saturday. His tandem partner, Barrett Astin, picked up the Rattlers’ 1st win.

Can’t make it out to the games today? You can still catch all the action on 1280 WNAM.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a former MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Timber Rattlers Pre-Game Notes for 4/5/2014

by Kevin Kimmes
20140405-120721.jpg

Heading out to the ballpark this afternoon? Here’s a few notes to make you the smartest guy in your section.

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again: For the 2nd consecutive season Timber Rattlers’ catcher Clint Coulter went yard on Opening Day. Coulter’s homer came in his final at bat of the night during the 9th inning on Thursday night.

A Strong Start: Despite the loss on Thursday night (Peoria won 8-4), Timber Rattlers’ starter Taylor Williams had a solid first outing of the season. In five shoutout innings, Williams struck out seven while only walking one. The 7 strikeouts set a new professional single game record for Williams.

Hazy Shade of Winter: Mother Nature just wouldn’t cooperate on Friday night leading to cancellation of Game 2 of this 4 game homestand. The cancelled game will be made up as part of a double-header scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

Playing Both Sides: Rattlers’ lead off hitter Omar Garcia showed skills on both sides of the ball on Thursday night recording 3 hits and laying out for an amazing diving catch in the 3rd inning.

Can’t make it out to the game today? You can still catch all the action on 1280 WNAM.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a former MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Rattled: Peoria Brutalizes Wisconsin on Opening Day Despite Dazzling Effort by Williams

by Kevin Kimmes
20140403-211107.jpg

33 degrees. It’s not exactly what most folks would consider to be ideal baseball weather, but when you are playing spring ball in the Midwest League these things can pretty much be expected.

Today is Opening Day for the MiLB (Minor League Baseball for the uninitiated) and in Appleton, WI the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are facing the Peoria Chiefs to start the season for the 6th time since 1995. While the brave souls in the seats are sparse, I’m told that the club level overhead is packed to near capacity. As I said before, it is 33 degrees at game time.

Most of the players on the Opening Day roster have never faced these kinds of conditions before, a fact that Clint Coulter expounded upon:

“…we have a lot of guys who hadn’t played in anything like this and then also this is their first full season, first time they’ve really played in front of a crowd like we’ve got here.”

The Rattlers manage to strike first blood in the 3rd inning after Rafael Neda singles and is driven home on a triple by Omar Garcia. Garcia, who made a spectacular diving grab in the top half of the inning, brought his A-game with him showing skills on both offense and defense.

Wisconsin starter Taylor Williams was dazzling on the mound for the Rattlers striking out 7 in 5 innings of work. “I just tried to go out there and command my fastball, command my zone, and give the defense behind me a chance to make plays,” Taylor said post game.

“Dominant,” was how Rattlers skipper Matt Erickson described Williams performance. “He was pounding the zone early and obviously he was putting away people too. He gave us a great chance early in that ballgame to win that game.”

However, the tides began to turn when the ball was turned over to Williams’ tandem partner, Tyler Alexander.

In the 6th Alexander would yield a run, tying the game at 1. The Rattlers would take the lead back in the bottom of the inning (2-1), but that lead would be short lived.

The top of the 7th would become what can only be described as a massacre. Alexander would load the bases with only 1 out leading to his removal. His replacement, Chris Razo, would fair no better. By the time the dust cleared the Chiefs had batted around and the Rattlers found themselves on the losing end of a 7-2 score.

Wisconsin would battle back in the bottom of the 7th when a Michael Ratterree triple would be driven home on a sacrifice fly to deep center by Taylor Brennan. It would be the only run for the Rattlers in the inning, it’s relevance erased when the Chiefs would tally yet another run in the top of the 8th bringing the score to 8-3.

A Clint Coulter homerun in the bottom of the 9th would bring the score to 8-4, however it would be all the offense the Rattlers could muster.

The Rattlers return to action Friday night at 6:35 PM for game 2 of this 4 game Opening Week matchup.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a former MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Timber Rattlers 2014 Opening Day Pre-Game Notes

by Kevin Kimmes
20140403-180853.jpg

Tonight, the Timber Rattlers kick off the 2014 season at home against the Peoria Chiefs. Here’s what you need to know if you are heading out to the ballpark tonight (game time is set for 6:35 PM).

– Back for his 4th season as the skipper of the Timber Rattlers, Matt Erickson (204-209) is just 12 wins shy of passing Gary Thurman (215-198) for the most wins by a Wisconsin manager in franchise history.

– 6 former Rattlers have made the 2014 Opening Day roster. They are: pitchers Preston Gainey, Harvey Martin and Chris Razo; catchers Clint Coulter and Rafael Neda; and infielder Chris McFarland.

– The Brewers made 2 roster moves in order to reach tonight’s 25-player limit. Those moves find Rodolfo Fernandez (P) and Paul Eshleman (C) placed on the disabled list.

– If tonight’s matchup seems like ” It’s deja vu all over again”, that’s because it is. Tonight marks the 6th time these two teams have faced off to start a Midwest League season. Wisconsin holds a 3-2 advantage in the previous 5 matchups.

– The all time series between Wisconsin and Peoria (which dates back to 1995) finds the Rattlers in the drivers seat. The Rattlers are 148-142, with a 69-84 record here at Neuroscience Group Field.

– This year marks the Chiefs 2nd season as an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Chiefs had the Rattlers number in 2013 winning 11 of their 17 head to head contests.

Can’t make it out to the game tonight, you can still catch all the action on TWC Sports WI, 1280 WNAM, and on MiLB.TV.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a former MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Cheifs Extinguish Rattlers Fire: Series Sweep Broken Up In Final Game

Despite early showers and a questionable forecast, 2,450 fans turned out for the fourth and final game between The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (5-5) and the Peoria Chiefs (4-6) on Sunday. The game marked the midpoint for the Rattlers current homestand, as they will play 3 games against the Burlington Bees early this week before hitting the road Thursday for six games.

The Chiefs wasted no time getting to Rattlers starter Andy Moye as second baseman Zeke DeVoss smashed the first pitch of the game for a triple. DeVoss would score on an RBI grounder from center fielder Pin-Chieh Chen, which gave the Cheifs an early 1-0 advantage.

The Rattlers would answer with a run of their own in the bottom of the 1st thanks to a single from 3rd baseman Brandon Macias. Macias would eventually reach home on a RBI grounder from designated hitter Jason Rogers bringing the score to 1-1.

The Rattlers would tack on a run each in the 4th and 5th innings to pad their lead at 3-1. Despite the low score, the Rattlers appeared to be in the drivers seat thanks to the pitching staff.

Moye, who was stung early in the first, rebounded to have a solid 3 innings of work striking out four and only giving up two hits and two walks. He was relieved in the 4th by Jacob Barnes who put up 4 scoreless innings, followed by Seth Lintz who put together a scoreless 8th on four batters faced.

When Timber Rattlers reliever Tommy Toledo took to the mound, it seemed a foregone conclusion that a win was at hand. However, the inning would prove to be the Rattlers undoing as Toledo would face 8 batters before recording the 3rd out and both shortstop Marco Hernandez and left fielder Oliver Zapata would score tying the score at 3-3.

The Rattlers would respond with a flurry of offense in the bottom of the 9th as Rogers, along with shortstop Yadiel Rivera and left fielder John Dishon, would each single. Unfortunately, that was as far as the offense would go as catcher Tyler Roberts would record the inglorious “Golden Sombrero”, striking out in all four of his at bats, to end the 9th inning and move the game to extra innings.

In the top of the 11th, Zapata blasted a booming 408 foot homer off Tyler Cravy giving the Chiefs a 4-3 advantage. A Chen single would eventually score giving Peoria the 5-3 advantage and the win.

The Rattlers will play the first of 3 games against the Burlington Bees today at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. The Rattlers are scheduled to start Matt Miller (0-2, 6.30) while Burlington will send out Drew Granier (0-0, 3.00). Game time is set for 6:35pm.

Game at a Glance:

Player of the Game: Oliver Zapata – 2/4 – 2 Runs – 1 HR – 1 RBI – 1 BB

WP: Yao-Lin Wang (1-0, 0.00)
LP: Tyler Cravy (0-1, 9.00)
BS: Tommy Toledo (1, 6.35)

Time: 3:41
Attn: 2,450

Bringing It All Back Home – Rattlers Win Game 1 Of 7 Game Homestand

by Kevin Kimmes

On a day that saw the Brewers get shut out by the Chicago Cubs 8-0, the Timber Rattlers found themselves in the position to seek a little redemption for their parent club as they took on Cubs affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs, in the first game of a 4 game series. Under clear skies and with a game-time temp of 57 degrees, the 740 fans in attendance at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium were in for a great night of April baseball.

The Rattlers struck first in the bottom of the 1st inning when Jason Rogers (playing in left field) connected on a pitch from Chiefs’ starter PJ Francescon (0-1, 3.48) and took it 377 ft for his second homerun of the week. The blast gave the Timber Rattlers an early 1-0 lead.

Rattlers’ starter Drew Gagnon (0-0, 2.00) would keep the lead alive into the 5th, striking out 6 in 4.2 innings of work, when with two outs in the 5th, Cheifs third baseman, Brad Zapenas, singled, stole his way to second, and eventually scored on left fielder Pin-Chieh Chen’s single to tie the game a 1-1. Gagnon would finish the game with a total of 7 Ks in 5 innings of work.

Not content to be tied for long, the Timber Rattlers opened up the bottom of the 6th inning with a solo homer from Chadwin Stang (also his second of the week) which put the team back out front 2-1. But the Rattlers weren’t done yet. Designated hitter Brandon Macias would follow the Stang homer with a single, advancing to 2nd on a wild pitch, and eventually scoring on a single from first baseman Parker Berberet to bring the score to 3-1.

The Chiefs tried to close the gap in the 8th inning when Zapenas drew a walk off of Rattlers reliever Tommy Toledo (1-0, 3.86), advanced to second on a wild pitch, and eventually scored on a single from catcher Rafael Lopez. The single would mark the end of Toledo’s night as the Rattlers would call on Seth Harvey (0.00) to pick up the save.

The Timber Rattlers would make Harvey’s job easier thanks to Stang drawing a walk to start off the bottom of the 8th. Stang would advance to 2nd on a Macias sacrifice bunt, and eventually score as a wild pitch would move him to third followed by a throwing error from the catcher, Lopez, which would plate him for the second time of the night and bring the score to 4-2.

Now, with a two run advantage, Harvey would work through the top of the 9th only giving up a single to Reggie Golden who collapsed in a heap as he touched 1st base. Zeke DeVoss would be brought in to pinch run, but would never be given an opportunity to advance.

The win brings the Rattlers record to 3-4, tied with Peoria, Kane County, and Beloit.

The Rattlers are back in action at Time Warner Cable Field tonight for game two of this four game series. Start time is 6:35 pm. The Timber Rattlers are scheduled to send Mark Williams (0-1, 4.50) to the mound while the Chiefs will counter with  Jose Rosario (0-0, 1.93).

Game at a glance:

Player of the game: Chadwin Stang: 1/1 – 2 runs – 1 hit (HR) – 1 RBI – 1 BB – .304

WP: Tommy Toledo (1-0)
LP: PJ Francescon (0-1)
Save: Seth Harvey (1)

Time: 2:34
Attendance: 740